Peach Upside-down Cake

Peach Upside Down Cake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

There is nothing sexier than a perfectly ripe peach and nothing more disappointing than one that is subpar. I find the former more difficult to lay my hands on than the latter, but it is worth the hunt and the wait to get one. It seems that peaches have good seasons and bad ones. It is the entire crop that is either smooth, juicy, sweet and floral or they are mealy and have no discernible taste or smell. Folks, this seems, at first examination, to be one of those prized peach years. I admit mine were not local, just a seductive flat from Costco. I even bought it when the peaches were still too firm to know what they would amount to. After a couple of days on the counter I could smell them from across the room and they begged to be eaten. My son dove in first and I immediately sent him out the back door to finish up the slurping in the yard because my kitchen floor was getting sticky from peach juice. Eureka, it is going to be a good summer! The entire case ripened at once and we were eating them as fast as we could. I put them in cereal, in salads, in yogurt, on ice cream and sliced them up and tossed them in this ginger spiked upside-down cake. I’ve made 3 of these cakes since the first one came out of the oven, it is THAT good!

Peach upside-down Cake


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 inch fresh ginger, cut into thin coins

pinch salt

1/2 vanilla bean, cut and scraped

3 tablespoons whiskey (use orange juice if you want to skip the adult libations)

1 pound fresh or frozen peaches (It is ok if they are not perfectly ripe. The firmer the fruit the more it can cook in the caramel without breaking down.)


4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1 cup (5oz) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup brown sugar, well packed

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

Cooking down peaches for upside down cake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

In a skillet cook together the butter, brown sugar, ginger, salt, vanilla bean, whiskey, and peaches. Cook them on low heat until the juices are the thickness of maple syrup. If the fruit starts to fall apart remove it from the pan and just leave the juices to cook.

Peach mixture in a baking dish | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Place the fruit and all the juices into an 8-Inch Square Baking Dish. (I made this in a glass pan and in an 8-Inch Square Nonstick Metal Cake Pan and found I liked the color on the one baked in the darker metal pan. Both tasted wonderful, but the color was nicer in the metal.)

Preheat oven to 350°F

To make the cake batter:

In a small saucepan cook the butter over low heat.

Cooking butter over low heat | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

until the butter is caramel colored and smells toasty.

Straining cooked down butter | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Strain the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Leave to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Set aside.

Using the paddle attachment, beat together the browned butter, brown sugar and vanilla until it is cooled off slightly. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Add the fresh ginger and mix just until it is evenly distributed.

Spreading cake batter over peaches | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Place the batter evenly over the peaches and spread smooth with a Spatula.

Peach upside down cake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

bake for about 30 minutes or until the cake is set and a tester comes out clean. let sit until the pan is cool enough to handle and invert onto a serving platter.

Peach upside down cake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

I serve the cake with the ginger coins and vanilla still in place, but you can remove them before if you want. The ginger can be eaten and has a delightful heat to it, the vanilla is just for drama, but can’t be eaten.



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44 thoughts to “Peach Upside-down Cake”

  1. This looks wonderful! I’m visiting my grandmother in South Carolina and was gifted a large bag full of peaches to bring home, so I might just have to use this recipe to use them all up. Thank you!

  2. I absolutely agree with you about peaches! We had an amazing season last year after I don’t know how many really lousy ones! Maybe we appreciated them that much more for having had to wait so long! We are just barely starting to see stone fruits on the market here in Nantes and I am praying they are good. This peach cake – WOW – this must be my husband’s favorite thing and I’ll definitely be trying your recipe! Beautiful cake!

    1. Hi Jamie,

      I agree, it is heart breaking when an entire season goes by with no juicy peaches! I will cross my fingers for you this year!

      Thanks, Zoë

  3. Gosh I love this! Just made the most amazing apple cake and now really want to try peaches in cake. I find that glass pans are notoriously sticky 🙁 how did you get the cake to release so neatly?

    1. Hi Magpie,

      There is so many juices under the cake that it just falls straight out of the pan. I didn’t have any problems with either of the pans I used. You may want to run a knife around the cake part if that is sticking.

      Thanks, Zoë

  4. Oooh! The peaches and the whiskey seem like a dream combination. It’s great to hear that you can use peaches that aren’t perfectly ripe.

  5. Thanks for the source of your peaches, Z. I need them for Boozy Floozy jam. And peach ice cream.

  6. Zoe, this cakes looks absolutely wonderful and now to find some good peaches – thus far it hasn’t been a good year in North Carolina. I’d like to freeze a couple of cakes to have later on in the year. Will this recipe freeze well?

  7. Hi Zoe,
    Thanks for the beautiful recipe. I would love to make this for a crowd. Do you think I could double the recipe and bake in a 9×13 pan? Thanks.

    1. Hi Janet,

      Yes, absolutely! You will just have to be careful when you are inverting it onto the platter.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  8. I was lucky enough to eat this on the 4th of July with you, now am going to try it myself today at the cabin! Wish me luck, wonderful teacher! xo J

  9. I have some peaches and looking for something to do with them. Love that the vanilla bean stays in this — I’ll have to try the ginger coins. Wondering about their flavor after baking now. Great recipe!

    1. Hi kellypea,

      For those who like ginger these coins are the BEST part of the whole cake. They are also big enough to pick off for those very few who are not fans.

      Enjoy, Zoë

  10. hi zoe!

    i still had lots of ripe nectarines at home, and your cake inspired me to make my own upside down nectarine cake with ginger and cinnamon :). i just loved the ginger in the cake! i’m from germany, and we usually don’t use ginger in baking.

    i posted my version on my blog (it’s in german though) and have linked to your recipe :).

    at first, i tried to bake the cake in a pan (something i have wanted to try for quite a while) – well, let’s just say i still need to get the hang of it :D.

    i always enjoy reading your posts. 🙂

  11. Looks yummm…I have been drooling over it since you put this post up. Tomorrow I am making this for my Dad’s birthday.

  12. Do you peel the peaches? In the first picture of the sauce pan there are no peels on the peaches – in the second picture of the glass pan there are peels on the peaches. Either is fine?
    Another question – how do you store vanilla beans? I have some beauties and would like them to keep as long as possible.

    1. Hi Jean,

      I did this cake several times, some with the peels and some without. I liked it both ways and the extra work of taking the peels off didn’t seem worth it.

      I store my vanilla in a cool drawer, well wrapped in plastic or in glass. I go through them at a very fast pace, but if you won’t use it in a month or so you can wrap them and store them in the refrigerator.

      Thanks, Zoë

  13. I made this today. I left the peels on – don’t even notice them. Wow, this is good. This recipe will go in my favorites book. I need to make it for all my favorite people. Thank you

  14. I made this cake tonight, it was amazing! Just one question, your batter looks thick. Mine was extremely thin and there was just enough to cover the peaches. Any Thoughts? The flavors were fantastic though. My husband would have sat and eaten the whole cake in one sitting if I’d let him.

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      It is just that my butter must have cooled more than yours before I started. That is what happens when you are photographing every step! 😉 As long as the cake came out well for you it doesn’t really matter, but you could let the butter cool even more next time and the batter will be thicker.

      Thanks, so glad you enjoyed the cake! Zoë

  15. Don’t you love it when trying to do too many things at once, you make a mistake that actually works out really well. Trying run from home office to kitchen – not wanting to stop and write down or print off recipe, I put the larger quantity of butter in the pan with peaches. OH CRAP! But it’s butter, too much can’t hurt anything, can it? I decide after I’m done putting peaches and (some of the syrup) in the pan that I’d just add the additional syrup to the cake batter and ease up a bit on the brown butter. I’m on my third go around as I shared first attempt with several friends who raved and I thougth it was pretty tasty as well. This weekend I’ll stick to the plan as peaches have been delish.

  16. Made this for a family dinner tonight-everyone loved it! Super easy and very well received. It was gone before I’d even gotten back from the store for ice cream to go with it :). One request people had though was that next time I should skin the peaches first-they didn’t like having the change in texture. Thanks for the great recipe!

  17. hello, so i just baked this cake today and i had a problem. the first part with the peaches turned out nice but when i got to the actual cake part it didnt really turn out well in the oven. the cake became very very dense and not light and spongy like this picture is. the batter was not as thick either. mine was pretty liquidy. i read over the recipe multiple times and i did everything right. what do you think could have happened?

    1. Hi Zoë,

      From your description I wonder if the butter you added was still too warm, this would make the batter very thin as you describe and not have the lightness of my cake.

      Let me know if this sounds like the issue? Thanks, Zoë

  18. Your step by step pictures always encourage me to actually make them. This cake looks stunning and seems so easy. Definitely making it with the kids this weekend. Thank you!

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